Monday, July 14, 2014

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has scheduled public hearings on a change to state administrative rules regarding how state forestlands are classified.

The proposed rule refines language within ODF's Forest Land Management Classification System (Oregon Administrative Rule 629-035-0055) to add the classification of "High Value Conservation Areas" within state forest management plans.

The intent is to more clearly organize and display - on land use maps and in data systems, for example - areas of state-owned forests that are currently managed with a conservation emphasis. The rule change seeks to affirm state forests' current contributions to conservation. No changes to projected harvest levels or designations of additional conservation areas are proposed.

Currently, the Forest Land Management Classification System places all state-owned forest land into one of three types: General Stewardship, Focused Stewardship or Special Stewardship, with subclasses assigned for the specific forest resource or uses that require a Focused Stewardship or Special Stewardship classification.

The proposed change would divide the Special Stewardship classification into 1) Special Use and 2) High Value Conservation Areas.

Current language places lands that are managed with a conservation emphasis into subclasses according to specific attributes -- such as wildlife habitat or aquatic/riparian habitat -- or designates lands where timber harvest would be impractical or would put natural resources at risk due to steep slopes, rocky soils or other characteristics. Under the proposed change, all of these lands would be grouped in the new High Value Conservation Area classification. The Special Use category would contain lands with specific uses, such as recreation sites, rock quarries or power line rights-of-way.

Public hearings are scheduled as follows:

Cannon Beach - Tuesday March 12 at the Community Hall, 207 North Spruce beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Hillsboro - Wednesday March 13 at the Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 Brookwood Parkway, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The hearing locations are accessible to persons with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours prior to the meeting by calling the Department of Forestry at 503-945-7427.

Public comments along with staff responses and recommendations will be provided to the Board of Forestry for review prior to final rule adoption, which is anticipated in June 2013.

The proposed rule revision applies to all Board of Forestry-owned lands--the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam state forests in northwestern Oregon, the Gilchrist and Sun Pass state forests east of the Cascades, and scattered small parcels throughout Oregon. The revised land classification system would also apply to the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay, although the Elliott's forest management plan already includes designated conservation areas as one strategy to achieve overall plan objectives. Most of the Elliott is under jurisdiction of the State Land Board, made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state. An agreement is in place under which the Department of Forestry provides management.

The draft rule language is available for review on the Oregon Department of Forestry web site at:  http://www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/FLMCS-Rulemaking.aspx

Written comments on the proposed amended rule are being accepted through April 5, 2013, and may be sent to ODF through several routes:

Email to -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fax to -- (503) 945-7376 Attn: John Barnes

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